Sport Management Students at the College Football National Championship

George Kantelis

Ever wonder who sets up the branded environments at events, concerts, and sports games? Well, Etzel Agency is one of those companies, and they work very closely with ESPN and other large companies to dress the stadium and event spaces for important games and events. Earlier this month, four of our Sport Management students were surprised with a rare opportunity to get hands-on experience in this space.

Lucas Shrode, Patrick Kovalak, Hee-Dee Walenga and Hunter Lundy were invited to accompany Etzel Agency to help them set up, work, and disassemble the fan activation sights that led up to the College Football National Championship game. This meant an entire weekend of work— a micro-internship, of sorts.

Neelay Bhatt, Jason Pappas, Lucas Shrode, Patrick Kovalak, Hee-Dee Walenga, Hunter Lundy
Neelay Bhatt (left) with the FSU team.

Immediately, the Etzel team began educating our students on their role and purpose for the weekend. They also assured the students that all of their personal interests in sports management would be accounted for and satisfied. 

The weekend's long list of events included the AllState Championship Tailgate, CFP Fan Central, and the AT&T Playoff Playlist Live. At these events, Etzel was responsible for the activation sites of The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company, Chick-Fil-A, Taco Bell, Dr. Pepper, and ESPN. 

Over the course of the weekend, our Sport Management students worked through the Indiana cold to set up sponsored barricades and deliver pallets of product across Lucas Oil Stadium. By experiencing the set up of the event first-hand, the students were able to realize the importance of collaboration and networking. All kind of sports industry professionals work together to set up events of this caliber: managers, construction workers, security professionals, and more. To succeed in the fields of sport management, you need to be able to have a good relationship with all of them. 

Of course, networking is important, but communication in networking can be verbal and non-verbal. Sometimes, your hard work simply speaks for itself. Unbeknownst to the team of Sport Management majors, some Taco Bell representatives were in Indiana to assess the quality of work on an activation site that our students were working on. At the end of the weekend, they expressed their happiness with the quality of work that Etzel put into their activation site.

Lucas Shrode, Patrick Kovalak, Hee-Dee Walenga, Hunter Lundy with the Heisman
Patrick Kovalak, Lucas Shrode, Hunter Lundy & Hee-Dee Walenga

An incredible trip coupled with an incredible amount of work can often lead to life-changing lessons and takeaways. There are certain hands-on experiences that simply can't be recreated in a classroom setting. These students will use this opportunity to grow both as students and as future sport management professionals.